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Vanlife – 5 easy ways to deal with waste and water on the streets


The hardest thing about being off-grid with a wild camping or motorhome or campvan is how to find fresh, safe drinking water and suitable gray and black waste disposal points while you are on the road, especially in the UK which is much harder than motorhoming in Europe.

However, don’t let the confusion stop you. There are plenty of options for motorhomes and camp vans to safely dispose of waste and get water – which we are going to share with you here.

Don’t forget to catch yours Free motorhome wild camping checklist here To help set up your van for the night without electricity or facilities.

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Vanlife: Finding water and waste – what’s the big deal?

If you do all your motorhoming at camp sites, this may seem like a silly question. All in all- it’s easy … you just attach your hose to the tap at the campsite and empty your gray tank and toilet cassette in the appropriate area.

And you’re not wrong. But.

My guess is that most people are concerned about water and waste removal, when there are no plans to stay at camp sites in motorhomes or camper vans অথবা or at least not facilities. In fact, there is a good chance that you are planning to stay off-grid with your van, enjoy a place of motorhome wild camping and generally want to stay as far away from the camp site as possible.

With that in mind, let’s get started.

Motorhome Wild Camping Guide for the UK and Europe


Motorhome waste disposal

Before we get started, let’s talk about different types of waste. Gray waste is shower and sink dirty water and black waste is toilet waste.

In most places, you can’t dispose of them in one place. The gray water goes down a drain and the black waste goes to a chemical toilet disposal point. It is important to understand that difference before moving on to different types of waste disposal points.

Watch the video

Prefer to watch instead of read? Here is the video about the information in this post. However, since filming we’ve added more details and information to help you, so you may want to skim this post as well.

Working with motorhome waste and water while traveling

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Where to find motorhome waste disposal points

Let’s start with the obvious one – if you need a safe place to get fresh water and remove gray and black waste, the best place to go is a motorhome campsite.

I know, I know আমরা we’ve already mentioned that you’re trying to avoid these কিন্তু but these are the best places to visit for motorhome amenities.

Usually, we start our motorhomeing vacation with an empty van, because the van is kept in storage and we are unable to fill the fresh water there. For that reason, we try to book the first night of any of our trips to the campsite. We do the same thing last night তাই so we can properly empty the gray and black waste and drain the remaining fresh water that may still be in the tank.

Of course, you probably need to book in advance to get a place in the summer, but if you know when your trip will start, it’s easy to know where you can stay.

And, if you’re planning on staying at the campsite with waste disposal facilities and water for your entire trip, it’s easy – you just use them.

But what if you want to avoid campsite?

If you don’t want to spend the night at the campsite, how do you find water and waste disposal the rest of the time on the streets ?? Well, there are several options. You are:

  • Visit a camp site and pay to use their services
  • In Europe, use motorhome air or service points
  • Use public utilities (not recommended but useful in a pinch)

Pay for campsite facilities

In the UK, where Ayers and motorhomers do not have a large network, they are not well supplied, we still recommend using the campsite facility as often as possible.

Many campsites will charge you a small fee (somewhere between £ 5- £ 10) to refill your freshwater tank, empty gray waste and your toilet cassette.

We’ve had even better success using camp sites that openly say they approve of it (see their website) or use smaller, independent camp sites. Anyone running a site as an independent business from a farm or field is much more likely to allow a ‘pit stop’.

You can call in advance (if you are a large vehicle or pull a trailer with your motorhome as we do) but we have had better success simply by being polite to use their services and paying politely.

Top Tip: Do not attend motorhome club campsites (such as CMC or CCC sites) on Fridays or Sundays during the summer or school holidays. They will be very busy dealing with you and are much more likely to say no.


Europe Airs and Service Points

If you do motorhoming in Europe, life is much easier! In addition to air (learn how to find airs and overnight parking in Europe), there are also arrangements for motorhome service points, often in service areas on motorways.

To use these, you just have to pull, pay a fee (usually 1 or 2 €) and get empty waste / fresh water. Easy peezy.

So, when all of the above fails, let’s discuss public service.


Gray waste water disposal in the UK

For gray wastewater, there is a way to dispose of it properly without campsite. The United Kingdom, like other parts of Europe, has separate arrangements for rainwater and gray water. Therefore, most roadside drains are for rainwater only.

If you’re lucky enough to find a gray water drain, you can simply drag your motorhome upstairs and open up the waste (gray, not black.) Most aircraft and authorized motorhome parking spaces have gray water drains (although they’ll always say ‘ No.)

Alternatively, if you park somewhere, you can use such a plastic container, which can then be taken to the appropriate disposal point or drain.

Where to find UK gray waste and toilet disposal points

Here is a fantastic map from Campra (Campaign for Real Ayers in the UK) that shows wind and settlement points across the UK.

There are several waste disposal sites in the Lake District – here’s where they can be found (thanks Paul for the link)

Gray water and toilet waste disposal points in Scotland

Here is a great map from Campa (not like Campra above) showing waste disposal points and camp sites in Scotland that allow you to use their services for a fee.

Can you dispose of gray waste in a ‘normal’ street drain?

This is a clever one. My politically correct answer is not, because it does not go back to the right system for treatment. Having said that, it’s not illegal to wash your car on the street এবং and it’s also soap and dirt.

My honest answer is, in a pinch, it’s better to empty the drain than the whole street. Obviously, using the right campsite facility is the best option. If you think you can do it at any time, please try to use washing liquid towards the environment (like this).

Also, try to remove plates / cooking pans to remove grease and food before washing (it is a good practice no matter what your tank smells / pipes do not freeze.) And please do not just open the outlet as you are driving, even in the rain Although.

Also, some small campsites tell motorists to use their gray water in the hemorrhoids, especially in the summer. Only do this if the symptoms are clear.


Empty motorhome campervan toilet cassette in UK
Empty motorhome campervan toilet cassette in UK

Disposal of black waste / toilet cassette for vanlife

Don’t use busy public toilets like M6 service or beach front. Find a quiet village or remote Lu. There is a website and app called Toilet Map that can help you find places.

Also, don’t press it all at once – you’ll block the toilet. Flush after a while. Clean up

Important: Make sure the toilet you are emptying is not in a septic tank / fossa. If this happens and you use ‘normal’ toilet fluid, you will kill all the bacteria. Again, if this is possible (for example if you are driving in France), use foss-friendly liquids on your toilet cassette, such as this

How to empty your motorhome toilet is chronic

To keep the toilet in the discharge for a long time, some people use a urine bottle, but you need a little liquid there otherwise it will all get stuck as a big lump.

Instead what we like to do is not put toilet paper in the toilet. Instead, we use a plastic bag, such as a nappy bag for all used paper, which can then be safely disposed of in a bin.

Some people find this weird, but we had to do it on the boat for many years so it’s pretty. For us Kamal and the toilet stopped filling so much, so fast.

Also, you don’t have to pay for expensive motorhome toilet paper. Seriously, get cheap stuff from any supermarket so that it dissolves easily. But if you are going to keep it in a bag, you can buy the brand of your choice!

Another alternative to ‘sticky’ toilet paper is not to use a lot of water to flush the paper – which only fills the cassette. Instead, you can use a spray bottle (or an old Domestos bottle with a jet spout) for target pressure and use it to clean clean marks on the bowl using very little water. (Thanks Bob for the tip.)

When we’re at it, please, pretty much, don’t empty the cassette on the side of the road, or in a hedge, or in the woods. It is causing chaos in popular areas and places like Portugal have been destroyed by it, so please help protect our country by disposing of waste in a healthy way.


Looking for fresh drinking water while traveling

To get water, you would be able to get water from garages and service stations, but many of that is gone now. Some people suggest using the cemetery but personally it is not good for us. If you own a canal boat, you may have a key that gives you access to services – in some places there are enough cars near the park. Again, we use the campsite and only drink water from the lifesaver Jericho which we carry on the ship.


I hope this has helped answer your question. I want to hear what you have to do – feel free to share your suggestions. And if you know of any camp sites that allow you to use their facilities for a fee, please leave the details below so that others can benefit.

Want more tips for motorhome life?

Here are some more ideas that might work for you:

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